Game notes: No. 12 Wisconsin hosts No. 4 Notre Dame

Trent Frederic has not been as dominant as many predicted thus far in his sophomore season. If Frederic can respond and pick up some offensive momentum, the Badgers will likely earn a sweep this weekend against Michigan State.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

No. 12 Wisconsin (4-3-1 Big Ten, 10-7-2 overall) against No. 4 Notre Dame (8-0-0, 14-3-1).

Wisconsin is 5-4-2 at home, and Notre Dame is 6-0-0 on the road.

Last weekend, Wisconsin split a series with Minnesota and Notre Dame swept Michigan State.

Goalie Matchup

The goaltending situations between these two teams has not shaped out the way that most predicted before the season.

For Wisconsin, many expected increased consistency between the pipes with the addition of graduate transfer All-American Kyle Hayton. Instead, Hayton has been shaky so far and has vastly underperformed expectations with a .892 save percentage. After Hayton was pulled in the first game of last weekend's series against Minnesota, sophomore Jack Berry has stepped up and will now start his second game in a row. In the second game against Minnesota, Berry let in only two goals on 42 shots. Berry has a .919 save percentage in his five games this season, and he has a chance to establish himself as the full-time starter with good performances this weekend — a shock considering the preseason narrative strongly favoring Hayton.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, has seen the opposite situation. Before the year, the only legitimate question mark for the Fighting Irish was its goaltending, as the top two goalies in the program are a freshman and sophomore with little experience. Despite the uncertainty, sophomore Cale Morris has stepped in, and he may currently be the single best player in the Big Ten. He has a .955 save percentage and a 1.47 goals against average on the year, and has been a consistent force for Notre Dame this year.

Special Teams

Both sides will have a chance to impact the game on the power play tonight.

Wisconsin has the 10th best powerplay in the nation, converting at 23.61 percent. Wisconsin found some success against Minnesota this weekend with the man advantage, scoring on two of six powerplays in the first game but failing to convert on three opportunities in game two. Notre Dame, however, has the fifth best penalty kill in the nation at 88.5 percent.

Wisconsin has been looking to shoot more from the point on the powerplay. Specifically, the Badgers are expecting senior defenseman Jake Linhart to T-it-up from the point almost every time it touches his stick, which has been working in recent weeks.

Notre Dame’s poweplay is less explosive than Wisconsin’s, but UW has struggled on the penalty kill recently.

Special teams could be a huge factor in this game, so look for each team to crash the net hard when they have the man advantage.

Star watch

While Wisconsin has had more depth this season (which is a of course a good thing), they are currently missing the one player that can consistently make something happen. Senior Cameron Hughes and especially sophomore Trent Frederic were expected to be those dominant players for UW, and although they have played well, they haven’t been as dominant as expected.

Notre Dame, however, has found that stud — that star that can always be counted on to score or make a big play at nearly any time. Senior forward Jake Evans currently leads the nation in points with 28. Evans has seven goals and 21 assists, including three game-winning tallies.

Wisconsin’s Frederic and Wagner, in comparison, lead UW but only have 16 points a piece.

In a tight Big Ten game, sometimes the contest comes down to which player can make the biggest play.

Right now, advantage Notre Dame.

Full preview here from Cameron Lane-FlehingerBadgers look to regain energy, confidence as underdogs against Notre Dame

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